Battleground 2020Elections 2020FederalIssuesStatewide NewsBattleground 2020 Update: Candidates Running in Some Hotly Contested Texas Races

With a number of open seats and highly competitive districts, here's a look at how some of the races across Texas are shaping up in our Battleground Update series.
August 30, 2019

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Below is the first edition of our bi-weekly battleground election updates. These are quick hits on new developments in key Texas races.

U.S. Senate Race

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), running for his fourth term in the U.S. Senate, has already drawn a field of notable competition.

11th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) has represented the district since winning the seat in 2004, but will be retiring at the end of his term. Since Conaway’s announcement, several Republicans have entered the primary race.

The Texan Tumbler

  • In early August, Republican J.Ross Lacy, a businessman and Midland city councilman filed to run for the seat. Lacy has secured the influential endorsement of Ernie Angelo, who served as the co-chair on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.
  • Ross Schumann and Wesley Virdell have since also declared their campaigns for the Republican primary. Wacey Alpha Cody filed to run before Conaway’s announcement.
  • Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) was rumored to be considering a run, but announced his reelection campaign for his current seat instead.
  • One Democrat, San Angelo lawyer Jon Mark Hogg, has also filed to run for the seat.
  • Jeffery Cady has announced his campaign as an Independent.

22nd Congressional District

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX-22) is another retiring congressman. Unlike Conaway’s district, which is likely to stay Republican, the 22nd congressional district has been chosen as a target by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

  • Several Democrats filed to run before Olson’s announcement and began funding ahead of the Republicans running in their primary:
    • Sri Preston Kulkarni previously challenged Olson and lost by a margin of less than five points. He has already raised over $400,000, more than any other candidate so far. Kulkarni served as a policy advisor to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
    • Nyanza Davis Moore is an attorney and raised a little over $70,000 at the end of last quarter.
    • Derrick Reed sits on the Pearland city council.
  • Five Republicans have filed to run for the seat since Olson’s announcement: Greg Hill (judge), Matthew Page Hinton, Howard Lynn Steele, Kathaleen Wall  (former candidate in the 2nd congressional district), Joe Walz (veteran and businessman).

23rd Congressional District

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) also announced that he would be leaving Congress at the end of his term, opening the seat up that was already chosen as a target by the DCCC.

  • Five candidates have filed to run in the Democratic primary:
    • Gina Ortiz Jones is the clear frontrunner in the race at the moment. The Air Force veteran and former senior trade advisor with the Office of the  U.S. Trade Representative ran against Hurd in 2018 for the first time and lost by a margin of 0.5 percent, less than a thousand votes. At the end of the last fundraising quarter, she had already raised nearly $600,000.
    • The other Democratic candidates are Rosalinda Ramos Abuabara (activist), Jaime EscuderLiz Wahl (reporter), and Brandyn Joseph Waterman.
  • Four Republicans have also filed:

24th Congressional District

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24) is yet another retiree with a district chosen as a target by the DCCC.

  • Seven candidates have entered the Democratic primary:
    • Kim Olson, who served in the Air Force and ran as a Democrat for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture in 2018, has emerged as the frontrunner, raising $303,000 by the end of the last quarter.
    • Crystal Fletcher, an attorney, raised about $106,000.
    • Candace Valenzuela, who serves as a representative on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District board, trails closely in funding with a reported $82,000.
    • Other Democrats running in the race include Jan McDowell (certified public accountant), John Biggan (cognitive neuroscientist and teacher), Will Fisher (business lawyer), and Richard Fleming (tax consulting firm owner).
  • Since Marchant’s announcement, several Republicans have also entered the race:
    • Beth Van Duyne has emerged as the frontrunner in the GOP primary with several notable endorsements, including from Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2), State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving), Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson, and former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Chad Hennings.
    • Other Republicans who have filed include Suneetha Chaparala, David Fegan, and Michael Moates.

State Senate District 19

  • State Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) is expected to face tough opposition in his race from Democrats, but so far only one opponent has filed to run against him: Xochil Peña Rodriguez.

State House District 45


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.